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How Can Independent Restaurants Compete In This Difficult Climate?

Even high-profile restaurants are struggling, so what chance do the small independents have?

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Even high-profile restaurants are struggling, so what chance do the small independents have?

Opinions

How Can Independent Restaurants Compete In This Difficult Climate?

Even high-profile restaurants are struggling, so what chance do the small independents have?

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Over the past few months, the UK has seen a wave of high-profile restaurant closures. These high-profile closures include Carluccio’s, Jamie’s Italian and Byron – all of which have been forced to shut down as a result of poor profit margins.

However, it is the UK’s independent restaurants that consumers appear to be most concerned about. In fact, recent research by GoKart revealed that half of UK adults are concerned that their local high street is being taken over by restaurant and fast food chains, driving out independent businesses.

The conditions being faced by high street businesses and retailers more generally have been brought on by the UK’s impending departure from the EU on 29 March 2019. Since the EU referendum, the sterling has been depreciating in value, in turn increasing import costs and driving up food prices.

While larger chains are better able to absorb and manage these costs thanks to long-standing supplier contracts, independent restaurants are faced with significant impacts on their profits when buying produce and ingredients from overseas.

UK consumers are also feeling the pinch. Deloitte’s 2017 Leisure Consumer report revealed an 8% reduction in eating out compared with figures from a year prior – with the biggest fall in consumer spending seen among 18-34 year olds.

How tech can help restaurants thrive

Technology is a powerful tool that all small businesses should embrace to remain competitive. One simple way to attract new customers is to ensure that prospective diners can easily book a table at their establishment, particularly in light of society’s increasing reliance on smartphones.

Research by Zonal and CGA recently revealed that 60% of consumers use a smartphone to make a booking. As such, employing the services of online booking systems like OpenTable and Bookatable ensure it is easier and faster for customers to make reservations at local restaurants.

Other practical services available on the market include leading apps like GoKart, which make it much more cost-efficient for independent restaurants to order supplies. GoKart enables restaurants to order ingredients from high quality suppliers easily, quickly, and for less money.

By bringing together hundreds of independents to buy from selected suppliers via a single platform, GoKart can offer restaurants savings of up to 20%, allowing independent restaurants to enjoy the same discounts offered to larger chains.

The booming UK delivery service also offers restaurants huge opportunities to expand their customer reach and improve profitability. A demand for efficiency and convenience has fuelled consumer demand for home delivery options – allowing them to enjoy their favourite restaurant meals all from the comfort of their own home.

The Takeaway Economy Report demonstrates the influence of this flourishing sector; with takeaways representing 12.1% of total spending on food in 2016, 39% of restaurants revealed that using apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo increased the amount of orders placed outside of mealtimes – while a massive 72% said that apps have been positive for their business.

Taking advantage of delivery apps is therefore a great way to boost sales and increase the number of diners choosing local, independent restaurants for their takeaway.

Growing financial pressures have forced the closure of many high street restaurants, but thankfully, tech and digital solutions now offer new ways for independent eateries to operate more efficiently and reduce their overall costs.

While more certainly needs to be done to support local restaurants, these establishments should be taking advantage of the exciting tech solutions that are currently available to them.

Anx Patel is CEO and founder of GoKart.

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How Can Independent Restaurants Compete In This Difficult Climate?

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